How to Put Your Company on the Map with LinkedIn
With Facebook and Twitter having a wider user base and being more popular with the masses, LinkedIn is often the social network that companies consider as an afterthought in their social media marketing strategy. Don't make the same mistake. As Neal Schafer put it, "simply because many people are on Facebook does not mean it's the best use of time and effort for businesses."
When done right, networking on LinkedIn actually opens up a lot of opportunities for businesses that are trying to find new leads and customers.
Make your business page count
Your company's LinkedIn page is just like a business card in the online world, so be sure to optimize it, both for human eyes and search engines. Apply basic SEO principles. Include relevant keywords in your profile, post an informative company description, and be sure to add links to your website. You want users to know exactly what your company is about when they visit your LinkedIn page, so complete all the necessary fields and keep your information accurate and up-to-date.
PS: This tip should also apply to ALL your social media profiles.
Join and Create Groups
Groups on LinkedIn provide a lot room for interaction and engagement. Groups allow you to find like-minded individuals, ask questions to relevant people, and share insights with those in your industry. LinkedIn also allows group members to receive digest emails to ensure that you don't miss a single post or update.
To join a group, simply do a search on LinkedIn by typing up relevant keywords in the search box at the top right part of the page. If you enter say, "social media" and hit search, LinkedIn will list all groups related to social media that you can check out.
If you wish to establish your own, simple navigate to Groups, then click "Create a Group". When filling out the necessary information, Kissmetrics advises giving "your group a generic name with recognizable keywords (people are searching for these keywords not your company). If you provide a local service, add the city/state name as well." On top of this, be sure to introduce yourself, and tell members what they can expect from the group.
As previously mentioned, group members are able to receive digest emails, which means that as an administrator, you'll be able to get into users' inboxes by sending group announcements and updates. This is a great privilege, so don't abuse it. Only post content that members would consider useful, because if they don't find any value in your digest emails, they'll simply delete them—or worse, they'll leave your group.
Got cash to spare? Consider investing in a few extras.
LinkedIn's set of free services and features is already very useful as it is, but if you happen to have a hefty marketing budget, then consider spending some of it on LinkedIn outreach. For a small fee, you'll be able to send InMails, or private messages to anyone on the LinkedIn network—no need to be connected to them, no need to have their email address; with InMail, you can reach out directly and introduce yourself.
Partner Messages are another useful (paid) feature of LinkedIn. It allows you to send InMails in bulk and it lets you target specific audiences, include a co-branded landing page, and even add a call-to-action button
Got an Event? Promote it!
Whether it's an actual "real world" conference, or an online webinar, events serve as a great way to network with people and spread the word about your business. You can find and join relevant events on LinkedIn's events page, or you can create your own.
When creating an event on LinkedIn, be sure to fill in all the fields and include an event logo, to give potential attendees as much information as possible. It wouldn't hurt to be more creative in your event title and description to stand out from all the other generic events out there. Once you've created an event, be sure to promote, promote, promote! Share its URL on other social networks including Facebook and Twitter. Post the event on your company page and groups. You can also send direct messages to users to get the word out.
LinkedIn is growing FAST. Get in now, and don't get left behind
Still need convincing? Look at it from a financial perspective. LinkedIn recently announced its Fourth Quarter earnings and the numbers simply blew everyone away; you don't need to be a financial expert to know that the professional social network did very well last quarter. According to the site's official announcement, "Revenue for the fourth quarter was $167.7 million, an increase of 105% compared to $81.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2010."
Think LinkedIn doesn't have as much potential as the other social networks out there? Think again.
Image credit: Nan Palmero on Flickr